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How Giving Back Will Connect You With Your Best Life

How Giving Back Will Connect You With Your Best Life

By: Lorna Oppedisano

Hi. I’m Lorna and I’m a podcast enthusiast — note the positive spin of “enthusiast” and not straight-out “addict.”

I live half my life in Syracuse, New York, where I grew up in and built a career, and half my life in Lowville, New York where I live with the love of my life and his children.

As you can imagine, I do a lot of driving and podcasts have become my road trip companions. have my go-to shows and, though I’ve never been particularly drawn to celebrities, I have a few favorite celebrity podcast guests. At the top of the list for me is Kristen Bell.

One of the reasons I absolutely adore K-Bell so much — after hearing so many podcast interviews, I feel we’re on that nickname basis — is that we share a passion for giving back. Philanthropic work, showing up to volunteer your time and talent is not always the easy choice and K-Bell puts some perspective on this by running all of her decisions through a simple filter: happiness or suffering?

When I first heard her say this it nearly brought tears to my eyes. It put into words something I’d always thought, a tenet that’d always naturally guided me.

Basically, it’s the question of: after this choice pushes the first domino, what happens when the last domino falls? Is it happiness or is it suffering? Sometimes, the answer is easy and clear; sometimes, it’s more convoluted. I would argue it’s always worth considering.

That leads me to the heart of these thoughts (though I could write about K-Bell and podcasts all day, if I had the option): the simplicity and the importance of giving back.

Giving back comes in so many forms. You can serve on a board. You can volunteer at a diaper bank. You can attend a charity event. You can vote in your local election. You can run in your local election. You can smile at a passerby on the way to the coffee shop, you can spend time with children, you can plant flowers in your neighborhood. One of the lovely things about the world of philanthropy is that small gestures are as valuable as large checks.

There are infinite opportunities to give back in this world with a population passing the 7.5 billion mark. Find something you are passionate about and take a moment and intentionally push the dominoes toward happiness.

Through a series of coincidences, my path has led me to a life almost fully in the nonprofit sector. From working for an organization, to personal fundraising and serving on the boards of local charities, to spending time on the weekends with my fiancé volunteering, it’s what truly brings me the most joy and makes me my best self.

Seeing positive change is the best part of the day. It could be something as groundbreaking as hearing that a new medicine for a chronic illness just hit the market. It could just be the expression on someone’s face after you share a smile with them. Whatever it might be, giving back is the simplest way to connect with other people and be human. It’s the best way to live your best life.

So, go find your favorite way to give back and cause happiness. Be your best self. I promise, that happiness will come back around to you!

Lorna serves as the Marketing & Development Coordinator at The Museum of Science and Technology (MOST). Previously, she was the managing editor of Syracuse Woman Magazine. Lorna also serves on the board of Father Champlin's Guardian Angel Society, is a co-director of Salt city DISHES, and volunteers for the CNY Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

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